Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder



Cattle are the main species of interest.

Other Names

  • Skin Wounds
  • Wounds



Lacerations generally involve wounds of the skin and possibly underlying tissues. 

Lacerations may occur in animals striking sharp projections in ramps, gates or laneways during loading or unloading, or when moving between yards or pens. Lacerations due to shearing cuts may be detected in sheep shorn just prior to loading. 

If lameness is present it is especially concerning, because more serious underlying damage to leg muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments carries a poor prognosis, particularly if flexor tendons and penetration of joints are involved. 

Laceration and bruising may result in damage to local blood supply and further necrosis and sloughing of tissue.

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on clinical examination.


  • Apply a pressure bandage if there is severe haemorrhage.
  • Relocate the affected animal to a hospital pen and provide a deep layer of dry absorbent sawdust to prevent decubitus ulcers should the animal spend a lot of time lying down during recovery.
  • The principles of treatment are to apply lavage, debridement and where appropriate, suturing and bandaging.
  • Manage grossly contaminated wounds as open (unsutured) wounds using lavage, debridement, and bandaging where appropriate.
  • An inexpensive, easily applied waterproof outer conforming bandage suitable for shipboard conditions can be made using rolls of plastic clingwrap, foam rubber and electrical or duct tape.
  • Apply topical antibiotic ointments or powders to help control surface infection, parenteral antibiotics (procaine penicillin, oxytetracycline, ceftiofur, erythromycin, or tylosin) to control deep infection, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (flunixin meglumine, ketoprofen, meloxicam, or tolfenamic acid) to control pain and swelling.
  • Encourage affected animals to stand as much as possible.


Use low stress animal handling methods to minimise the speed at which animals might hit sharp projections when being moved.

Identify and remove hazards from ramps, gateways and laneways before moving animals through them.